Mini-marshmallow and toothpick building challenge for kids

Jan 25, 2015

dubai tourism platinum heritage shangri-la hotel bloggerati australia 1001 events

In this activity, children are invited to learn more about gravity, engineering and architecture in a fun and hands-on way.


dubai getaway


I'm not generally one to take pictures of buildings. Sure, I admire certain made-made structures but I've never felt compelled to take multiple pictures of non-historic buildings. Until I went to Dubai, that is. 

When I asked my family living in Dubai, "Why should families visit Dubai?" and one of the answers on the list was, "Architecture (Dubai has a mix of both Arabic and modern contemporary buildings which creates a unique and interesting landscape)," they weren't wrong. Out of the desert pops this quite amazing spectacle. I had never seen buildings like them. They appeared to rise out of the ground, often so tall that they looked like they were on a lean (perhaps some were?). A new shape and design around every corner. Everywhere that we drove I found myself constantly going, "Wow, look at that one!", "Woah! Check that out." and scrambling to take a photo before we drove on. You can see some great views of Dubai from the air in my earlier post.

When I got home, my kids thought the buildings looked fabulous. Going through photos together brought up all sorts of questions and discussions. Opportunities for learning.

How do they make the buildings stay up? Why don't they fall over? How do they get them so high? How did they make it that shape?







The Burj Khalifa. The tallest building in the world.

Building challenge for kids.

To help us find some of the answers to the questions, I set out a classic and simple construction activity with just two types of materials, toothpicks and mini-marshmallows.




We chatted about how being an architect means that you design, plan and oversee the construction of buildings. It is a very important job that requires a lot of study in order to be able to do it properly. Architecture is both an art and a science. It is the job of an architect to use their creativity to design something that looks a certain way and performs certain functions, as well as knowledge of scientific principles and mathematical expertise, to ensure that the structure stays up!

Engineers are also very important in the construction of buildings. They use maths and science to come up with solutions to problems that might arise with the construction of a building. They often need to overcome problems with new solutions that have never been done before, to help realise the dreams of the architect and client. They also need to be able to think creatively.

These days a great amount of technology is used in the design and construction of buildings. Here, we were getting back to basics and testing out simple structures. Seeing if we could work against gravity (that force that is always pulling things back to earth), and engineer a building that would stay standing without any assistance other than the arrangement of mini-marshmallows and toothpicks.

Relishing in the beauty of a structure and in symmetry that often occurs in buildings.
Discussing plans.
Using photos for inspiration and to lead discussion.
"I think you should make this one"
Testing ideas.
Problem solving.
Whilst younger children (my son had recently turned 3 here) might not be capable of building free-standing structures, this is great for their fine-motor skills and for testing and experimenting.
Sorting and counting. Playing allows for unplanned learning to occur naturally.
Children learn naturally about 3-dimensional shapes and some of their uses whilst building in this way.
Engineering some support beams to prevent the structure from falling.


Handy Tips:

To extend this activity children could be challenged to:
  • First play the architect and draftsman role in the construction of a building by drawing up plans.
  • See how high they can get a single structure to stand unassisted
  • Test their construction against certain natural phenomenon. Can it survive winds (a fan) or an earthquake (shaking the table)?
  • Build a structure entirely of cubes

- To simplify this activity, younger children might find using larger, stronger materials easier for their developing fine-motor skills. Try regular sized marshmallows and paddle-pop sticks instead and let them experiment with sticking them together and seeing how gravity works.

- Instead of marshmallows to hold the construction together you could use gum-drops or blu-tack. Instead of the toothpicks you could try straws or sticks. Here we tried building with cotton-buds and playdough with similar results. There are plenty of different combinations of materials that you could try.



Happy playing,
Debs :)


Look where else we are. Are you following along? :)
New Here? Subscribe to get all activities sent directly to you
Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner
dubai getaway dubai tourism platinum heritage shangri-la hotel bloggerati australia 1001 events


29 comments:

  1. Great post, which you have shared here about the Engineering Colleges. this information very important for every person those really interesting in. If anyone looking for Best Engineering Colleges in IndiaM, then is smvec a good choice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Taldeen is an Handling Solutions products manufacturing company in Hail, Saudi Arabia. The Handling Solutions Products Are Plastic Pallets And Plastic Crates. Visit The Webpage of Taldeen Handling Solutions For More Details Of It. For Visiting Click The Below Blue Color Words
    Handling Solutions | Plastic Pallets

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like this post you guys are doing great Job this website is best for better understanding for kids behaviour. Search Here Best Jobs https://www.careerswale.com/job

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is understandable that one is more confident when their task is in the hands of the Professional Essay Writing Help than a novice; thus, one hires Essay Writing Asssignment Help Writer who delivers the ideal Custom Essay Paper.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Buy Computer Science PapersFebruary 29, 2020 at 12:03 AM

    It is advisable for students to seek help when taking Computer Science Writing Services and Computer Science Essay Writing Services for they can hire the best Computer Science Paper Writing Help provider.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is the best blog for Kids to learn Math and English with playing This Game.
    coursework writing services

    ReplyDelete
  7. Psychology assignment writing projects are very difficult to complete and many students are always searching for Psychology Research Paper Services companies to help them complete their psychology coursework assignments.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Online religion research paper writing services are very difficult to complete and many students are always searching for Religion Research Paper Services companies to help them complete their custom religion essay writing services.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Do you require a HP printer setup for your macintosh working framework? Is your printer driver not appropriate for macOS? At that point visit the 123.hp.com to get the product and driver for better working of your printer.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Personal statement & editing services have become very popular for students searching for college admission writing services as they engage the best online Personal Statement Writing Services.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post.
    Customised Face Masks to protect against COVID-19.

    ReplyDelete
  12. There are many engineering assignment help writing services and Engineering Writing Services to choose from for those stuck with their engineering research paper writing services and engineering term paper writing services.

    ReplyDelete
  13. OkeGaming Merupakan situs judi online terpercaya dan situs judi online resmi Di mana anda bisa bermain taruhan bola dan bermain slot games

    ReplyDelete
  14. judi bola resmi
    judi bola online terpercaya
    WWW.OKEGAMING.COM
    merupakan situs taruhan bola terpercaya di indonesia
    untuk itu okegaming memiliki bonus super besar dan menarik untuk para pecinta taruhan online
    dan menyediakan berbagai macam permainan yang terlengkap dan menarik

    ReplyDelete
  15. judi bola resmi
    judi bola online terpercaya
    WWW.OKEGAMING.COM
    merupakan situs taruhan bola terpercaya di indonesia
    untuk itu okegaming memiliki bonus super besar dan menarik untuk para pecinta taruhan online
    dan menyediakan berbagai macam permainan yang terlengkap dan menarik

    ReplyDelete
  16. you have a great writing skill. this article is very good, continue making the article, and don't forget to visit my site.. thankyou for sharing :)

    daftar slot online
    login slot online
    livechat slot online
    link alternatif SBOBET
    daftar SBOBET
    login SBOBET
    livechat SBOBET

    ReplyDelete
  17. We are one among the best web design company in Chennai. Our objective is to deliver clients with trending solutions that add values to their webpages and applications. We are Professional Website Design Services and we have efficient team of experts who are keen to complete the project within specified period. Our HTML5 developers are up to date in latest designing tools and technologies to build interactive websites. If you are looking for web designing services in Chennai also you can hire web designer India we are here to help you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This is great information for me, thank you so much for sharing this amazing blog. Visit Ogen Infosystem for top Web Designing Company in India at an affordable price.
    Web Designing Company

    ReplyDelete
  19. Custom psychology research writing services are very difficult to complete and many students are always searching for Developmental Psychology Writing Services to help them complete their psychology assignment writing services and developmental psychology essay writing services.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I Saw Your Website Carefully. Thanks For Create Such Kind of Informative Website. Your All Content Is Relevant To Your Subject. I Say Keep It Continue, Because Your Website And Subject Is Meaningful For The Users. I Have Recommended Your Website With My Friends Also.
    Escort Girls Service
    Escort Service In Delhi
    Mumbai Escorts Service
    Call Girl In Chennai
    Call Girl In Hyderabad
    Call Girl In Bangalore

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment! I love reading them all.